Why You’re Already a Perfect Mother

New Mom.jpeg

By Joanna Goddard for A Cup of Jo

I’ve noticed something about mothers…

I’m surrounded by wonderful moms all the time — who laugh with their children, who dress them warmly, who love them to the moon and back — yet these same moms, after their children are tucked in bed, often beat themselves up. Do I work too much? Do I get too frustrated? Am I always on my phone? Should I cook more green leafy vegetables?

When my head hits the pillow at the end of the day, I sometimes worry about these things, too. It’s hard not to, when you’re trying so hard and love your children so much. But lately I’ve tried to ask myself a different question: “Do my children feel loved?”

The answer is always yes. And that’s what matters, right? After all, who cares if we had frozen pizza for dinner? They freaking loved it. Does it matter that I missed bedtime? I’ll do it the other 6,569 nights of their childhood. Is it bad that Alex and I let them watch TV shows every morning while we snooze for an extra half hour? I did that growing up and turned out basically fine.

What I hope my boys will remember instead is how my eyes light up whenever they walk into the room, how I listen intently to their hopes and fears, how I love them so deeply for exactly who they are.

Plus, although it’s easy to feel pressure to be some sort of perfect parent, that doesn’t even exist. “I perform this scoring exercise on myself constantly; I suspect many of us mothers do,” writes Rowan Davies in The Guardian. “Are you a good mother? If you measure yourself against the fantasies projected all around you, almost certainly not. But back in the real world, you almost certainly are: you’re a good mother because you love your children, because you do what you can to keep them safe, and because when they take all the skin off their knees it’s you they come looking for.”

Of all the parents I know, every single one — without exception — is fantastic in his or her own way/style/personality. There are so many great ways to raise a child. Everyone’s doing the best they can.

I’m also still laughing about writer Raquel D’Apice’s take:

When people bring up the idea of being a good mom I admit that, by many people’s standards, I am probably not one… BUT, I tell people — if you’d like to focus on the positive for a moment — I am a great dad. All the things a great dad would do with his son are things I do! I put my son in a blanket and then spin the blanket around like a centrifuge because he totally loves when I do that, even though there is a chance he could get hurt. I encourage his fascination with slugs… I don’t cook much since it seems crazy to spend so much time cooking when we could be doing other things? But I eat dinner with him all the time, even if sometimes it is only kidney beans out of a can, and I taught him the ‘Beans, Beans the Magical Fruit’ song, which he enthusiastically sings to anyone who will listen… My favorite part of being a good dad is that I am allowed to make mistakes, which is fantastic because I make mistakes all the time.

The 12 Best-Designed Hotels Opening This Year

By Charu Suri for Architectural Digest

Some of this summer’s most exciting new hotel openings are alike in that they inspire visitors and foster a true sense of place, yet provide that joy of serendipitous discovery. With polished amenities and fine-dining options, these hotels are truly destinations in and of themselves, each paying inspired tribute to the historic neighborhood they’re in.


The Waldorf Astoria Beverly Hills

The Waldorf Astoria Beverly Hills, which opened on June 1, promises and delivers sweeping views of Wilshire and Santa Monica boulevards and beyond in each of its 170 rooms, which have floor-to-ceiling windows and private balconies. Designed by Pierre-Yves Rochon, who also did interiors for the Waldorf Astoria New York as well as the Four Seasons George V in Paris, the hotel is clad in cream and celadon tones that offset the artwork guests will discover throughout its 12 stories. From $600/night; waldorfastoriabeverlyhills.com


The Palace Hotel, Lake Lucerne, Switzerland

The Palace Hotel, a 1904 Belle Époque building on Lake Lucerne that is part of the148-acre Bürgenstock Hotels & Resort, reopens its doors in June following an eight-year restoration. The hotel’s curator, Joe Miller, catalogued 200 paintings and placed artifacts and moldings and pillars in temperature-controlled storage during the renovation. The Ritzcoffier restaurant offers classic French as well as regional Alpine cuisines and has the charming vibe of a 19th-century kitchen, complete with a set of antique wooden doors and blue-and-white tiles. From $400/night; buergenstock.ch/en


Le Méridien Visconti Rome

Following a $20 million renovation, Le Méridien Visconti Rome is poised to receive visitors for the summer. Interiors are marble-clad and done by Harry Gregory of the London-based firm ara Design. The 240-room property has several references to the city’s architectural treasures including the Pantheon, and also pays homage to the work of Italian architect Gio Ponti (take a seat in one of his classic design–inspired armchairs, sip a cappuccino at the Longitude 12 Bar, and plan your day ahead). From $220/night; lemeridien.com


Hôtel de Crillon a Rosewood Hotel, Paris, France

Hôtel de Crillon, a Rosewood Hotel, will reopen its doors on July 5 following a top-to-toe, four-year transformation under the guidance of architect Richard Martinet, artistic director Aline d’Amman, and three Paris-based decorators. It retains its 18th century–style grandeur, and the location of the 124-room property right near the Champs-Elysées and Jardin des Tuileries will put you in a City of Lights blissful daze. New features include a wine cellar and cigar lounge. From $1,300/night; rosewoodhotels.com/en/hotel-de-crillon


Celino, South Beach, Miami, Florida

One of the largest developments on Ocean Drive is the Celino, a $40 million project fusing three historic Art Deco buildings and one new build opening in the fall (part of this constellation is the 80-year-old Park Central Hotel). With 132 rooms, 12 balcony suites, and 14 one-bedroom suites, the property pays homage to the glitzy vibe of Ocean Drive in the 1940s. From $350/night; thecelinohotel.com


Perry Hotel, Stock Island, Florida Keys

The languorous island above Key West just got a nautical-inspired property, the Perry Hotel, in May. The 100-room hotel with lovely balconies on a three-year-old private, 220-slip marina in the Stock Island Marina Village has suddenly become the hugest magnet to attract visitors to the area, turning the island into a destination almost overnight. Luxurious touches include an on-site distillery as well as an artists’ studio. From $179/night; perrykeywest.com


Hotel Versey, Chicago, Illinois

At the intersection of Lakeview and Lincoln Park in a 1920s building originally known as the Diversey Arms, the refurbished Hotel Versey has a bit of rock-and-roll history. Its 137 rooms and lobby feature quirky art such as a bike sculpture and an exterior mannequin that resembles a cool riff off Rodin’s The Thinker. You’ll feel the star power vibe, since music acts such as Nirvana and Radiohead have stayed here. From $100/night; hotelversey.com


Hotel EMC2, Chicago, Illinois

A 195-room hotel that celebrates the intersection of art and science, Hotel EMC2 opened in late May in the Streeterville neighborhood (north of the Chicago River), known for its elegant condos and top dining venues. Designed by the Rockwell Group, each room has rose gold fixtures and playful gramophones. From $159/night; hotelemc2.com


The Scott Resort, Scottsdale, Arizona

Right in the heart of Old Town, the Scott was acquired from Kimpton last year by Phoenix-based Classic Hotels & Resorts, which is investing $15 million over the next two years to reinvent it (the first phase debuts in September). The property's 204 rooms and lobby will be decked in a Sonoran-style breeziness and Bauhaus-inspired chandeliers. From $129/night; thescottresort.com


Under Canvas, Zion National Park, Utah

Fit for stargazers and poets, this pop-up glamping village of luxury tents is open from August 17 through November 13. The 196-acre safari-inspired resort’s 48 tents are right near the rust-red rocks, and each can accommodate up to four people; farm-to-table fare is prepared in the open air. From $189/night; undercanvas.com/camps/zion


Hotel Theodore, Seattle, Washington

The 151-room Hotel Theodore, designed by Susan Marinello, opens in the fall, featuring photography and patent drawings from Seattle’s Museum of History & Industry archives. The Seattle-based brand Freeman has also stocked the hotel’s 14 suites with his-and-hers rain jackets in deference to the city’s often-moody weather. Craft beer and refined sleep amenities by Latherapothecary will remind you that you are in a truly special place. From $235/night; hoteltheodore.com


The Line Hotel, Washington, D.C.

The District gets a flurry of new hotels including the Pod, a 245-room micro-property in Chinatown, as well the Line Hotel in the Adams Morgan neighborhood, which is known for its music scene and globe-spanning cuisine. Set in a 110-year-old historic church with brass detailing and copper entry doors, the Line is an art-filled journey with a dedicated radio station and a 1,600-square-foot fitness center spearheaded by Graham King. From $268/night; thelinehotel.com

Mommy and Baby Yoga Is Definitely the Cutest Workout You’ll Ever Do

By Laura Wing and Jim Kamoosi for PureWow

Getting back into the habit of working out after giving birth? Easier said than done. That's why mommy-and-me yoga is the perfect solution. We teamed up with Karma Kids Yoga to bring you three moves you can do right in your living room with baby in tow.

Downward Dog to Plank: Start in downward dog, with your feet hips' width apart, your hands on either side of your adorable yoga partner and your butt up toward the sky. Lower your rear end until you’re in plank position with your core locked and your face right over your baby’s happy smile. Hold for 30 seconds, then return to downward dog.

Raised Leg Crunches: A core exercise for mom becomes a flying lesson for baby. Start lying on your back with your legs bent at a 90-degree angle. Place your baby on your shins and engage your core to come up for a kiss. Your abs might get tired, but you’ll never get sick of hearing those giggles.

Boat Pose: Balance on your sits bones with your back straight, your legs bent and your baby sitting happily on your thighs. Increase the difficulty, and fun for baby, by holding your nugget straight up in the air above your core while you hold.

This is officially the cutest workout ever. Check out the video!

Karin Blake Designs a Malibu Home That Evokes New England Charm


By Patricia Leigh Brown for Architectural Digest

Like a good novel, the phrase "having it all" is open to interpretation. If you are living in Los Angeles and possess an East Coast soul, one way to have it all is to confound geography and build your own private Nantucket along the windswept dunes of Malibu.

That the New England of shingle roofs and wide-plank floors shares the same beach with stucco extravaganzas occupied by movie stars is a testament to the creative power of designer Karin Blake and her longtime clients Greg and Teresa Nathanson.

Tucked into coastal dunes on a quiet stretch of Malibu, the residence exudes East Coast groundedness, albeit among the palms. It is the third collaboration between the designer and her clients: The first one was 25 years ago, when the newlywed couple hired Blake, who was just beginning her formidable career, to design a house on a budget of $15,000.

For years the Nathansons fantasized about a beach residence where the extended family might gather. After renting for many summers, they were finally able to build their first house from scratch. Since they are honorary New Englanders (he's from Illinois; she grew up in the Bay Area), their sensibilities and Blake's fit together like a dovetail joint. "Teresa is more East Coast than a lot of my East Coast clients," Blake says affectionately.

The designer brought her singular eye to the residence's exterior architecture—painted her favorite green—as well as the interior design and detailing, including the wood double-hung windows. Blake has long been influenced by Shaker architecture. She combines her strong background in American folk art with a studied spareness: She regards white walls as "a clean palette."

The heart of the house—she dislikes the term "great room"—is a combined kitchen, dining area and living area that provides an elegant foil for exuberant folk art, which Blake not only finds but which also, quite magically, seems to find her. Who else but Blake would stumble upon a vintage iron Northern Pacific Railroad express wagon, still bearing faded traces of paint on its wheels? (It is now a low table). "I love industrial pieces," she says.

The touches of green echo the green paint on a rare cupboard from Connecticut. "I love paint, color and whimsy," she remarks. "It's not so much what I put into houses," she adds. "It's how I put it in."

The wood ceiling beams, for instance, were procured from Vermont barns. The staggered wide-plank walnut flooring was aged to suggest having been trod upon by centuries of boots and shoes. Blake's trademark white-painted "Z" kitchen cabinet doors are based on originals now in her own Montana residence. Those doors, which have hand-forged-iron latches and hinges, were salvaged from a stable owned by the late actor George Montgomery, who was a respected furniture craftsman in addition to being a film star. "Ever since the stable was dismantled," Blake explains with bemusement, "people have said, " I want those doors.' "

She sleuths antiques from New York to Camden, Maine. Her affinity for folk art is wide and deep, from important canvases like a portrait of a young girl with a dog by Ammi Phillips, which hangs in the master bedroom, to a whimsical cast-iron clown head from Coney Island. With its black bowler hat and wide red grin, the figure spent its life atop a garbage can along the boardwalk. "The dealer claimed it was a bean toss, because a bean toss sounds better than a garbage can," says Blake.

Blake's relationship with her clients tends to be ongoing. She has been known to call clients up five years later to say, "I've found something for your hallway."

Left Coast guests are often surprised to encounter a residence steeped in New England history and restraint, especially along the beach in Malibu. "Southern Californians aren't used to the style, but they walk in delighted," Nathanson says. "The warmth always wins them over."

New Study Reveals Moms Need a Full Year for Recovery After Giving Birth

from Red Tricycle

Growing a baby a beautiful experience, but it’s also demanding on your body. New mothers may be told by books and doctors that they’ll be back to ‘normal’ within six weeks of giving birth, but a new study has found that most women take much longer to recover.

Dr. Julie Wray, a researcher at Salford University in England, interviewed women at different stages of post-partum life. She found that the standard six-week recovery period is a “complete fantasy,” and it can take a full year to recover from childbirth.

It’s not just physical recovery that’s needed, but mental as well. Many feel the pressure to get back on their feet soon after childbirth and feel it may be necessary to head back to work as early as six weeks.

Wray found that recovery should start in the hospital. Back in the day, women spent more time in the maternity ward learning how to take care of their infant and getting breastfeeding advice. Now, some women are discharged as early as six hours after giving birth and expected to just go with it, according to Wray’s research.

“The research shows that more realistic and woman-friendly postnatal services are needed,” Wray concluded. “Women feel that it takes much longer than six weeks to recover and they should be supported beyond the current six to eight weeks after birth.”

Recovery after childbirth is different for everyone, but the general consensus is that a full year to heal the body and mind is much better than a month and a half.

Find expert help for your growing family with British American Newborn Care.

Where to Walk, Run or Bike in Beverly Hills

Beverly Gardens Park

Beverly Gardens Park

From Love Beverly Hills

Beverly Hills is synonymous with world-renowned shopping, casual celebrity sightings and Michelin-starred chefs. Less well-known, but equally enjoyable, are the numerous opportunities to stretch your legs and soak in the fresh California sunshine. So lace up your shoes or strap on a helmet and leave the car behind. Whether you plan to walk, run or bike, Beverly Hills offers several unique ways to explore.

Walk from Beverly Cañon Gardens to Will Rogers Memorial Park 

Ease yourself into the day and work off that decadent Bouchon brunch with a leisurely walk. Start at Beverly Cañon Gardens, a quaint public garden situated near celebrity chef Geoffrey Zakarian’s Georgie restaurant at Montage Beverly Hills. Stroll through this tranquil green space filled with landscaped hedges, cascading fountains and colonnaded walkways.

When you’re ready to explore farther afield, walk north to the “Flats.” Aptly named, the wide, flat, tree-lined streets of this residential neighborhood are perfect for walkers. Take time to admire the immaculately maintained properties in the neighborhood, which display a wide variety of architectural styles like low-slung Cape Cod homes, palatial French Provincial mansions, and mid-century modernist gems.

Finish your walk at Will Rogers Memorial Park where you’ll feel miles away from the big city. Then, cross the legendary Sunset Boulevard to relax and sip a cool refreshment while you stroll the beautiful grounds of The Beverly Hills Hotel.

Run at Beverly Gardens Park

The morning air is fresh and cool in Beverly Hills and it’s the ideal time to run. While the city offers beautiful green spaces, a jog through Beverly Gardens Park offers ample space and a chance to sightsee as well.

This iconic park stretches 22 blocks (1.9 miles) along North Santa Monica Boulevard, from Wilshire Boulevard to Doheny Drive. Pause your run for a photo at one of the city’s most famous sights, the 40-foot-long Beverly Hills sign. The recently-renovated park is also home to an impressive collection of public artworks, including Electric Fountaina grand water feature that appeared in the movie Clueless and The Go-Go’s “Our Lips Are Sealed” music video, and Endless Va beautiful multilingual sculpture by the internationally acclaimed Spanish Catalan artist Jaume Plensa.

Once you reach Doheny Fountain at the eastern end of the park, venture north and cool down on the wide, tree-lined streets in the surrounding neighborhood.

Bike with Beverly Hills Bike Share

Beverly Hills’ extensive bike share program allows locals and visitors alike to easily cruise around the city’s six square miles and explore the parks and neighborhoods for only $7 an hour. Use the Beverly Hills Bike Share website or download the app to find and reserve an available bike at one of the bike share stations located throughout the city.

Once you have found your bike and unlocked it with your PIN code, start pedaling. With two wheels at your disposal, you can easily visit all of the parks and neighborhoods on the walking and running itinerary. Make a loop through the shady Beverly Gardens Park to photograph the permanent art installations and the Beverly Hills Sign. Then cycle the forgiving streets of the Flats neighborhood and admire the luxurious rolling green lawns and beautiful mansions. If you’re up for more of a challenge, point your bicycle north and leave the flatlands for the hillier—but equally charming—streets north of Sunset Boulevard.

Bike Farther to Coldwater Canyon Park

The truly ambitious bikers can head off the beaten path to Coldwater Canyon Park, which is located at 1100 North Beverly Drive where Beverly Drive meets Coldwater Canyon Drive, a main route to go “over the hill” to the San Fernando Valley.

The park provides a beautiful, peaceful green space with picnic tables, a playground area, an arbor and benches. There is also a small stream that flows through the park where children and their pets can walk and splash in, a feature long loved and appreciated by local families and visitors alike.

Across the street, on the eastern side of Coldwater Canyon Drive and adjacent to the fire station, is a well maintained soft surface running track perfect for walkers or joggers, young and old. 

Mommy & Me Family Activities in Beverly Hills

From Love Beverly Hills

She plays dress-up with your clothes, tries on your lipstick and when she grows up, she wants to be just like you. Treat your daughter to a Mommy & Me day in Beverly Hills and share new memories with this guide to a special day with your favorite little one.

  • Have breakfast at THE Blvd located at Beverly Wilshire, A Four Seasons Hotelwhere you’ll both enjoy their breakfast menu, which includes chocolate chip pancakes, cereal and French toast for the kids and omelets, poached eggs and waffles for the adults. After your delicious meal, explore this hotel's stunning halls of original 1920s charm. You may recognize the setting from the beloved popular film, Pretty Woman.
  • After breakfast, walk to Color Me Mine where you can create a piece of art together. First, you’ll select a piece of pottery to paint from over 400 available options, like piggy banks, plates, mugs or flower pots. Once you’re finished, the Color Me Mine team will glaze your masterpiece and have it available for pickup in about three days.
  • On your way back to the Golden Triangle, swing into Anthropologie for a bit of shopping for yourself. Anthropologie carries everything from dresses, blouses and active wear to shoes, bags and even items for home, such as furniture, decorative pillows and cookware.
  • If you really want to see your little girl’s eyes light up, take her up to the Mezzanine level where BHLDN’s bridal shop is located. With bridal gowns and bridesmaid dresses to earrings, headpieces and shoes, we guarantee she’ll love taking a peek at this boutique.
  • Now that you’ve shown her how to shop in Beverly Hills style, it’s your daughter’s time to shine! Located walking distance from Anthropologie, Auntie Barbara’s Kids carries toys, accessories and clothes for children up to size 8 and will have your daughter looking and feeling like a superstar in no time.
  • After all of the shopping and walking has built up an appetite, head to Il Fornaioon North Beverly Drive for lunch. Serving authentic Italian cuisine and offering al fresco dining with tables set outside, we’re certain the homemade pasta and pizza will hit the spot.
  • Once you’ve finished your meal, walk to Tom’s Toys, on North Beverly Drive, where your daughter can admire the dolls, board games, stuffed animals and other children’s favorites displayed in the store.
  • After you’ve had a bit of fun playing at Tom’s, stroll over to Olive & June for a side-by-side mother/daughter manicure. Your daughter will love the experience of selecting a color from the salon’s wall of over 350 nail polishes.
  • Once your nails have dried, walk to the Beverly Hills Visitor Center, where a friendly concierge will offer more tips on where to explore and how to get around. This is also the perfect chance for you to purchase a Beverly Hills souvenir to remember the special day. Before you go, remember to ask the concierge to take your photo in front of the famous Beverly Hills shield, just outside the Visitors Center!
  • Ask the concierge to arrange for a taxi and take a trip to The Witch's House, also known as the Spadena House. Looking as if it was plucked straight out of a fairytale, this private home in a quiet, residential neighborhood stands out among its neighbors with its pointy, lopsided roof, small windows and stucco exterior.
  • Have your cab then bring you back to the Golden Triangle and drop you off at the shop that started the global cupcake craze: Sprinkles Cupcakes. The Beverly Hills Sprinkles is home to a 24-hour cupcake ATM which plays a catchy song as it dispenses its famous cupcakes.
  • Walk toward Rodeo Drive and stop into Catamini for one more shopping adventure. This trendy, Paris-based children’s clothing brand takes contemporary fashion and adapts it to fit the needs of today’s kids and their daily activities. With bright colors and fun prints, your daughter will love this shopping experience in Beverly Hills.
  • Continue east on South Santa Monica Boulevard and step into Sugarfina, a candy store for all ages. With unique confections like Black Currant Berry Gummies, Super Sour Hearts and Mandarin Orange Chocolate Cordials, we’re certain you’ll both find something to savor as you finish your special day in Beverly Hills.

5 Things Nursery School Taught Me


By Lexi Mainland from A Cup of Jo

My two-year-old started school this fall and he’s full of surprising new knowledge. “Snails only have one foot, Mommy,” he pointed out when I tried (clumsily) to draw a portrait of the classroom pet. But, true to parenting form, I think I’ve gained as much wisdom as he has. His teachers, who use the Montessori method, have decades of experience with little ones and I’ve picked up so many tips. Here are five that were especially thought-provoking…

On please and thank you. Parents often encourage toddlers to use pleasantries like please and thank you, but the head teacher says that’s less important than teaching them to ask nicely — without shouting, demanding or whining — and directly, with eye contact. In her view, most two-year-olds can’t yet understand the meaning of please or thank you (they’re just words), but they can understand the difference between saying “more crackers” nicely and not.

On self-care. One of Montessori’s tenets is teaching children how do practical things themselves. There are many dimensions to this, but my favorite is the water pitcher. A covered pitcher is always available next to a stack of durable glasses and a small towel. The kids learn to help themselves whenever they need a drink. And if they spill a little, no big deal — a towel is right there so they can clean up. (Jasper loves pouring water for himself and everyone else.)

On referring to classmates. All the kids at school are taught to call their classmates “friends,” which is so sweet. For young children who are still getting their sea legs socially (and might find memorizing a bunch of new names challenging), being able to say, “I played with a friend!” at the end of the day is empowering. Jasper tells me, “I have eight different friends in my class!”

On praising toddlers. There are a ton of different philosophies about how to praise kids, but when Jasper does something great, we tend to overreact. “Great job!” I’ll say. Or “Wow, that’s amazing!” His teachers at school have a more matter-of-fact way of praising that Jasper really responds to. They’ll acknowledge his work (“You made a picture!”) and offer praise that’s specific rather than general. “I like how you drew the tree so tall,” they’ll say. The idea is that this encourages kids to think and talk about their about their own work, and to appreciate its merits on their own, rather than always looking to others for approval.

On diaper duty. Our school leaves potty training (and its timeline) up to parents and kids, but they help support the process and have a specific point of view: Always change toddlers’ diapers in the bathroom, standing up. Anything solid in the diaper gets flushed down the toilet and kids wash their hands after being changed. When we learned this on parents’ night, all of us collectively slapped our foreheads. What a sensible way to start showing little kids what the bathroom is all about. It instantly sets them on the path to potty training.

What has your kids’ school taught you about parenting? Do you do any of these things? I’d love to hear.